Monday, May 22, 2006

SSRIs increase brain cell growth

Over at Wired's Bodyhack blog, I saw a link to this article which indicates that SSRI's spur the development of new neurons in the brain.


Kathleen Doheny writes:
The researchers decided to look at how the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants -- the widely used class of drugs that includes Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft -- might spur brain cell growth. To do so, they tracked the way in which stem cells -- undifferentiated cells that can grow into specialized cells -- became neurons in a special mouse model given the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine).

"Stem cells in the brain go through several steps before they become neurons," Enikolopov said. Examining the cascade of events, his team found that "cells which are born from the stem cells, called amplifying progenitors, are the cells being targeted by Prozac," he said. According to Enikolopov, Prozac zeroes in on these amplifying progenitors and increases their numbers. Within three to four weeks, his team noticed an increased number of mature neurons. |Health Day|
This reminds me of a character in Voice of the Whirlwind by Walter Jon Williams who was hooked on a drug that was designed to regrow severed spinal cords. The drug had the effect of increasing intelligence, but there was a negative feedback loop. If you stopped taking the drug you ended up dumber than you were in the first place.

I don't know if this research indicates that SSRI's make you smarter, but it is an interesting factoid, nonetheless.

1 comment:

Mun Mun said...

Me no feel smarter